The Serpent of Stars by Jean GionoThe Serpent of Stars by Jean Giono

The Serpent of Stars

byJean GionoTranslated byJody Gladding

Paperback | April 23, 2004

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The Serpent of Stars (Le serpent d¢étoiles, 1993; reprinted 1999 Grasset) takes place in rural southern France in the early part of the century. The novel’s elusive narrative thread ties landscape to character to an expanse just beyond our grasp. The narrator encounters a shepherding family and glimpse by glimpse, each family member and the shepherding way of life is revealed to us. The novel culminates in a large shepherds’ gathering where a traditional Shepherd’s Play—a kind of creation myth that includes in its cast The River, The Sea, The Man, and The Mountain—is enacted. The work’s proto-environmental world view as well as its hybrid form—part play, part novel—makes The Serpent of Stars astonishingly contemporary. W.S. Merwin’s "Green Fields" begins, "By this part of the century few are left who believe/in the animals for they are not there in the carved parts/of them served on plates and the pleas from slatted trucks..." This novel leaves the reader believing not only in the animals, but the terrain they are part of, the people who tend them, and the life all these elements together compose.
Jean Giono was born in Manosque in 1895 and spent most of his life in that part of Provence, which is also the setting for his immense body of work, over fifty novels, as well as poems, essays and plays. During World War II, he turned to political writing and was jailed for pacifist activities. He is best known in North America for his...
Title:The Serpent of StarsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:117 pages, 7 × 6.02 × 0.4 inPublished:April 23, 2004Publisher:Steerforth PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:097286928X

ISBN - 13:9780972869287

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Read from the Book

Open yourself! Here you are crossed by the suns and the clouds; here you are traveled by wind. Listen to the beautiful wind that dances over your blood as over mountain lakes; listen to the way it makes the beautiful sound of its depths ring out! Here you are bristling with sun, free to walk in the thorns, and the thorns break under your heel, and your head is buzzing like a nest of wasps. Here you are all light with clouds, and you leap into the sky, and you leap through the beautiful waves of the sky like an eagle.

Editorial Reviews

Giono has created his own private terrestrial domain, a mythical domain…It is a region over which the stars and planets course with throbbing pulsations. It is a land in which things happen to men as aeons ago they happened to the gods. Pan still walks the earth. The soil is saturated with cosmic juices. Events transpire. Miracles occur. —Henry Miller[Giono's] phrases behave like the wild grasses and the beasts he speaks about. They are sap breathing and moving across the page...Jody Gladding translates as a poet...and that is the only way to translate Giono. —Cecilia VicuïaWhat good luck to have this portion of Paradise, with its shepherds and music, rivers and mountains, magic and mystery, lovingly translated into English. —Christopher Merrill